"Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday morning, calling the senator "Chokehold Mitch" for his expected move to block a Senate bill that would ban the sometimes-deadly practice, MSNBC reported. Scarborough also called for Republican senators to demand an "up/down" vote on the issue.
Scarborough hosted a panel discussion on the issue. He was joined by NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt and former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele, among others. During the segment, the panel discussed the previous day's emotional testimony from Philonise Floyd, who called on Congress to end certain practices, such as chokeholds, that have led to the death of people in police custody.
Indeed, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives has already put forth a bill aimed at banning chokeholds. Hunt noted the bill doesn't actually ban the practice outright, as Congress doesn't have that authority. What Congress can do, however, is withdraw federal funding from police departments if they don't adhere to the bill.
Scarborough noted that any bill the Democrat-controlled House puts forward will likely be dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate.
He then noted the Republicans' perilously slim majority in the upper house. They hold 53 seats to the Democrats' 45 seats. Two seats are held by Independents, though they caucus with the Democrats.
Scarborough went on to say that at least two Republican senators have indicated they would side with Democrats on the issue of police reform. Mitt Romney recently marched with George Floyd protesters, and Lisa Murkowski has admitted she's "struggling" with whether or not to back President Donald Trump's reelection campaign.
That leaves Mitch McConnell, Scarborough stated.
"Let's be very clear about this: it will be Mitch McConnell, and Donald Trump, who will be the lone protectors of the chokehold... This is just BS," he said.
He then went on to say McConnell and Trump will protect "killer cops."
"Mitch McConnell, the Champion of Chokeholds. He could get this passed in the Senate in a second if he wants to," Scarborough said.
He then called on Arizona Republican Senator Martha McSally to demand an "up-or-down vote" on banning chokeholds. He proceeded to call on various other senators, Republican or Democrat, to demand McConnell schedule an "up-or-down" vote on the ban.
An "up-or-down" vote is a procedural vote in which the full House or full Senate can vote on a bill more or less immediately, rather than having to wait for it to go through the committee process, or further debate, deliberation, or the addition of amendments to it.
Scarborough concluded by addressing McConnell directly, first by stating that since he (Scarborough) can't speak Russian, McConnell may need an interpreter.
"In America we have elections every two years. The kids are all calling you 'Moscow Mitch.' You're gonna be 'Chokehold Mitch' next," he concluded.